ONE of Britain’s biggest unions is backing an award-winning Hampshire ticket officer clerk who was sacked for breaking health and safety rules.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has pledged its full support for Ian Faletto, who says he was fired after removing a supermarket shopping trolley that had been dumped on the line at Lymington Town station.

More than 6,000 people have signed an online petition calling on South West Trains to give him his job back.

The campaign is being led by the Rev Alex Russell, vicar of St Mark’s Church, Pennington.

She said: “I’ve had several conversations with Bob Crow, leader of the RMT union. He has put his full support behind Mr Faletto and will be contacting South West Trains.”

Mr Faletto, winner of 25 awards for outstanding customer service, was sacked after a disciplinary hearing and subsequently lost an appeal against his dismissal.

The Rev Russell claimed that a senior RMT official was being denied access to the minutes of both hearings.

A South West Trains spokesman said: "This case involved a serious breach of safety. We can understand the feelings of people in the local the community and we have no doubt their response to what has been reported about this particular case is genuine. However, this does not alter the position that the facts of the case are fundamentally different from the seriously inaccurate picture painted to date.

"We never take any decision to dismiss an employee lightly and it is always based on careful consideration of all the relevant facts. It would be entirely wrong to be influenced by external parties or other factors.The dismissal decision has already been subject to a full and detailed review and our internal consideration of the case is closed.

"We are prevented from discussing the case in detail due to our duty of employee confidentiality. However, we are ready to ensure the full facts are made public at an Employment Tribunal if required."

Meanwhile, Mr Faletto, 49, of Durley Crescent, Totton, is delighted at the huge amount of support he has received from passengers.

He said: “I don’t know how to thank them. I just want to get my job back and continue serving the travelling public.”